Broughton sets the barometer
From the chance he was thrown as a mature-age rookie to his latest foray in the midfield, Fremantle’s Greg Broughton has made an art form of grasping opportunities.
Recruited with pick No. 73 in the 2009 NAB AFL Rookie Draft, Broughton immediately seized his first chance, playing 15 games in his debut season to earn permanent promotion to Fremantle’s senior list.
Then, after an impressive 2010 season that saw the tough backman add 17 games, he underlined his value by finishing third in Fremantle’s best and fairest last year.
It’s been a dream result for Fremantle recruiter Brad Lloyd, but Broughton’s stocks are poised to rise further in 2012 after a pre-season spent exclusively in the midfield.
With key onballers David Mundy, Michael Barlow and Anthony Morabito sidelined through the NAB Cup, the 25-year-old has extended his stay in the centre square with impressive results.
Hayden Ballantyne and Nat Fyfe have also enjoyed more midfield responsibility during the pre-season, but unlike his teammates, Broughton said making a permanent move into the midfield was not a goal of his.
“The goal for me is just to play at the highest level I can, whether it’s in the midfield or down back,” Broughton said ahead of Saturday night’s clash with Geelong at Patersons Stadium.
“It’s been great for the guys that haven’t played in there as much to have the whole pre-season to work in the midfield and to get those opportunities to call the shots.
“And it’s going to be great for us going forward and put pressure on the guys that are coming back.
“But I’m not sure where Ross wants me to play this year. I’m just going to try and learn both areas of the game and play my role.”
Asked during the NAB Cup if Broughton was in his midfield plans, Lyon was adamant that the courageous right-footer had already made that step in 2011.
Indeed, after moving into the midfield after round 10 last season, Broughton was Fremantle’s number one ball-winner, averaging 23 disposals (also his career average in 53 games).
That move was also brought on by injuries to key midfielders, and Broughton said he accepted the switch as a challenge.
“Physically I was prepared, but mentally, trying to figure out the spots to run to and our hit-to zones, I probably wasn’t prepared,” he said. “I took it as an exciting new challenge.
“I just try and win the ball, put my head over the pill and tackle as much as possible.
“I reckon I’ve still got a lot to improve and the number one thing for me is the defensive side of my game.”
After a pre-season spent working closely with stoppage coach Mark Stone, Broughton is mentally and physically more prepared for a midfield role this season.
He says he is feeling as good as could be expected after an uninterrupted summer that saw him – like the majority of Fremantle’s squad – run a personal best 3km time trial.
The dilemma now for Fremantle is that Broughton is also a proven option as a lockdown small defender, boasting good results against Geelong danger men Steve Johnson and Paul Chapman.
The Norm Smith medallists were held to one goal each when the Cats travelled to Patersons Stadium in round two last season, but Broughton said stopping them would be a team focus.
“I think it starts with the midfield and getting it forward,” he said.
“If we get it forward then they don’t have the impact going the other way. It’s a team effort and about everyone playing their role.”